This Time Will Be Different @ Summerhall

★★★

The second instalment in a trilogy of performance based installations that explore indigenous strength and survival.

Five books are suspended by chunky sailing ropes above a floor covered in tin-foil. The audience file in and sit at the sides, some on the floor and others in surrounding chairs. Apprehensive intimacy is our first impression of what will be an emotional fifty minutes.

This Time Will Be Different is part of Indigenous Contemporary Scene’s festival offering. A programme of live art, music and theatre; which seeks to amplify the voices of indigenous artists from Kanata/Canada. This ‘triptych of inspirational dance’, was created by acclaimed choreographer Lara Kramer in the aftermath of 2017’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission. A governmental report that aimed to document the history and lasting impact of the Canadian-Indian residential school system. Many felt this report didn’t go far enough to condemn and address the ‘cultural genocide’ believed to have taken place. Deep feelings of frustration and futility are conveyed throughout the piece.

The opening is shaky. A well meaning introduction (read: lecture) on the atrocities historic Scottish men have enacted on indigenous people. The issues are important and I welcome any attempts to address and inform us of colonial misdeeds that most would rather shrink away from. However the narrator lacks charisma and finesse, the message becomes lost between disparate information that feels incoherent and separate from the movement-based work that follows.

Once it gets going the installation-dance is a true success. We see young children tearing pages out of the aforementioned commission then gluing them to the floor. Their actions contemplative, an aura of percussive ritual pervades as paper and glue is slapped onto the foil floor. The dance progresses and more actors take to the stage, their cyclical movements transforming the stage into a cacophonous scrap-book. Paint is sloshed gleefully, in ever faster motion, as coins are tossed at the torn pages and the piece reaches a frenetic crescendo.

This Time Will Be Different is a powerful visual metaphor for the endless struggle to address the darker side of history in order to shape a brighter future. The fervent labour of the actors results in chaos. The naive motions of the children evoking a sense of unfulfilled dreams. Provocative performance art that leaves the viewers head reverberating with questions. Will these young indigenous artists be able to build a better world atop the shoddy foundations they have inherited? Will this time be different? 

This Time Will Be Different. Bruford at Summerhall. Indigenous Contemporary Scene. 4pm, daily until 18 August.

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